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The Best Postmodern Novels

Updated April 25, 2021 5.2k votes 1.0k voters 45.6k views57 items

List RulesTop works of postmodern fiction

List of the best postmodern novels from popular postmodern authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo that are reactions against Enlightenment and Modernist literature. Postmodern novels use techniques like fragmentation, paradox and questionable narrators in their writing to be experimental in literature. The purpose of postmodern novels is to take serious subjects from a distance and disconnect and be able to depict the stories with irony and humor.

The list asks the question, “What is the best postmodern novel?” The list is voted on to decide the favorite postmodern novel. If some of the postmodern novels by the best postmodern writers aren't listed, then be sure to add them so that other readers can vote on them.

Some of the best themes and techniques that are used in postmodern novels are irony and black humor, metafiction, non-linear narratives and fragmentations, paranoia, minimalism, or maximalism. Novels that include these features are on the list, such as House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Unlimited Dream Company by J.G. Ballard and Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov. Vote up the best postmodern novels right here.
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    Infinite Jest

    David Foster Wallace
    Infinite Jest is a 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace. The lengthy and complex work takes...  more

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    #111 of 117 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written#41 of 47 The Greatest Experimental Literature

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    221
    61

    Gravity's Rainbow

    Thomas Pynchon
    Gravity's Rainbow is a 1973 novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon. A lengthy, complex novel...  more
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    77

    Slaughterhouse-Five

    Kurt Vonnegut
    Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel...  more

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    #49 of 71 Required Reading That You Actually Ended Up Loving#9 of 98 The Best Sci Fi Novels for Smart People

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    152
    42

    White Noise

    Don DeLillo
    White Noise is the eighth novel by Don DeLillo, published by Viking Press in 1985. It won the...  more

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    #14 of 34 The Best Novels About College#10 of 25 Great Books They Haven't Made Into Movies Yet (But Should)

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    163
    51

    Catch-22

    Joseph Heller
    Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in...  more

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    Everything In The 'Catch-22' Book That The TV Adaptation Leaves Out#91 of 103 The Best Selling Books of All Time

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    120
    40

    The Crying of Lot 49

    Thomas Pynchon
    The Crying of Lot 49 is a novella by Thomas Pynchon, first published in 1966. The shortest of...  more
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    If on a winter's night a traveler is a 1979 novel by the Italian postmodernist writer Italo...  more
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    77
    18

    Blood Meridian

    Cormac McCarthy
    Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West is a 1985 Western novel by American author...  more

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    #6 of 102 50+ Good Books With Blood in the Title#1 of 13 The Best Cormac McCarthy Books

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    124
    55

    Lolita

    Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
    Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, in...  more

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    #11 of 40 The Best Russian Novels#29 of 48 The Best Novels About Sociopaths

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    96
    34

    Naked Lunch

    William S. Burroughs
    Naked Lunch is a novel by American writer William S. Burroughs, originally published in 1959....  more

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    #105 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Reading#334 of 704 Books That Changed Your Life

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    82
    24

    Underworld

    Don DeLillo
    Underworld is a novel published in 1997 by Don DeLillo. It was nominated for the National Book...  more
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    95
    41

    House of Leaves

    Mark Z. Danielewski
    House of Leaves is the debut novel by American author Mark Z. Danielewski, published in March...  more
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    57
    13

    V.

    Thomas Pynchon
    V. is the debut novel of Thomas Pynchon, published in 1963. It describes the exploits of a...  more
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    69
    25

    Pale Fire

    Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
    Pale Fire is a postmodern novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem...  more
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    62
    18

    A Confederacy of Dunces

    John Kennedy Toole
    A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which...  more
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    88
    42
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a novel...  more

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    #90 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read#13 of 52 The Best Absurdist Fiction Novels

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    24

    Labyrinths

    Jorge Luis Borges
    Labyrinths is a collection of short stories and essays by Jorge Luis Borges translated into...  more
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    50
    Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is a 1973 novel by the American author Kurt...  more

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    #97 of 179 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time#11 of 65 The Best Satirical Novels

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    27
    The Name of the Rose, a novel by Umberto Eco, is a murder mystery set in an Italian monastery...  more

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    #8 of 61 The Best Crime Novels#24 of 54 The Best Mystery Novels

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    57
    24

    Ubik

    Philip K. Dick
    Ubik is a 1969 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It is one of Dick's...  more
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    57
    28

    The Road

    Cormac McCarthy
    The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of...  more

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    #152 of 1,235 The Best Novels Ever Written#6 of 62 The Best Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels

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    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a novel published in 1994–1995 by Japanese author Haruki...  more
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    46

    Fight Club

    Chuck Palahniuk
    Fight Club is a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It follows the experiences of an unnamed...  more
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    40
    18

    Steppenwolf

    Hermann Hesse
    Steppenwolf is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in...  more